When is it Time to Replace Your Air Filter?

Your car's performance is suffering and you're paying more at the gas station. You smell like gasoline when you start your car and flames or black smoke come out of the exhaust pipe. The engine check light is on. It's time to check your air filter! The simplest way to determine if your air filter needs to be changed is to take a look at it.

A fresh, clean filter will usually be white, but it will darken as dust and dirt accumulates. If the filter looks very dark and dirty, it's time for a replacement. If you're uncertain, you can ask a technician to inspect the filters for you. The only way to be sure how often you should change your air filter is to visually examine it every month.

After a few months, you'll get an idea of how quickly it gets dirty and need to re-evaluate if you have a new pet or if the outdoor air quality has been poor. Although filters should be checked every month, you won't need to change them as often. It is recommended to change the filters as the season changes. This schedule makes sense because filters are more likely to be very dirty after a season of use.

The beginning of autumn is the ideal time to change filters for this reason. Filters that haven't been checked regularly may be dirty at the start of the hot season. Checking the filter and changing it at the beginning of summer ensures that families stay cool all season long. When you take your car to the mechanic, he can do a quick scan to see what's causing the problem and tell you if it's a filter issue.

Worn or dirty air filters will cause the engine to malfunction; one of the things you'll notice is that you have less power and weaker acceleration. Over time, as dust and dirt accumulate, the air filter will darken and dirt will be visible. A clean air filter will help the engine work better; in newer cars, it can increase acceleration by up to 11%, and in older cars it can improve mileage by up to 14%. Your home's air filters should also be changed regularly to keep the system running smoothly and maintain optimal air quality.

However, if you hear spitting or clicking sounds when the engine is idle, you may need to replace the filter. If you have young children at home, it's a good idea to use high-quality pleated air filters and change them as often as every two months. If you regularly drive in heavy traffic, your air filter won't last as long. If you know where your air filter is located (you can check the owner's manual for where to look for it), you can do a visual inspection.

A vacation home where you only live part time will need far fewer filter changes than a large family home with many occupants. As a general rule, lower home occupancy extends the life of the air filter, while higher occupancy reduces it. Pleated air filters are more expensive at first, but they're also more efficient at trapping particulates and can last up to 90 days depending on use. A good indication that your air filter needs replacing is black smoke coming out of the exhaust pipes when you start the engine.

By providing a clean air stream to the engine, an air filter ensures that the engine receives the right amount of air needed for optimal performance. If you detect any of these signs or if you've been wearing the same filter for a long time, we recommend visiting your local dealer and changing it.

Michael Morton
Michael Morton

Devoted internet maven. Hipster-friendly web practitioner. Avid pop culture nerd. Lifelong music lover. Avid pop culture specialist.

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